Did you earn that respect?

Knowledge will give you power, but character respect. – Bruce Lee


I had an interesting conversation today with “D” about respect. We were discussing the difference between earning respect and offering respect.

There are many people who believe you should only respect a person who has earned it.  We both agreed there are many times you ‘offer’ the respect to the person who ‘sits in the chair’.  For example, I believe you should offer respect to parents, grandparents, in-laws, teachers, your neighbor, your boss, your doctor, your librarian, and the person sitting next to you on a plane.  I could add many more roles of people in your life that I believe you should offer respect to, but I think you get the point.

Have all these people earned your respect?  Probably not.  And yet, it costs (almost) nothing to offer it.  In the extreme case where the person has done something to earn your scorn (antonym of respect), you may even be able to respect the right or tradition of the person if not the abilities or qualities.
If you are the person ‘in the chair’, consciously do all you can to earn that respect. Care about others, be inspiring, demonstrate your abilities, listen to people, and be humble.

This conversation served me well as I attended my martial arts class tonight. I was in the first position (highest rank belt of the class of 24 tonight) and I take it seriously when I am in this spot. I consciously gave that extra effort for jumping jacks since everyone is following my lead, I yelled just a bit louder, and I even smiled when our Chief instructor said “time to finish those push-ups for the month”. We achieved our 1,000!

What a nice day. A chance to reflect on what respect means. And a chance to push myself with all I have to earn it.

May tomorrow be as fruitful.

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